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Politics & Government

Roundup of the Last Day/Night of Lame Duck

Capitol building photo
WKAR File Photo
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UPDATED at 6:55 a.m.:

 

Michigan Republicans have voted to make it harder to initiate ballot drives, sending Gov. Rick Snyder a bill that would impose a geographical-based requirement on signature gathering.

 

 

 

The final votes early Friday capped a marathon day at the end of a contentious session following November’s election.

 

Democrats say the legislation is a “power grab” meant to undermine the will of voters. Republicans says it is reasonable to ensure more people from across the state could weigh in on ballot initiatives before they go to the ballot.

 

The legislation would let no more than 15 percent of signatures come from any one of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts.

 

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UPDATED at 6:15 a.m.:

 

Michigan’s Legislature has approved a $1.3 billion budget plan that would spend more on roads, environmental cleanup and mental health counselors in schools.

 

The bills heading to Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature also would allocate funding to hire more child protective services caseworkers in the wake of a scathing audit of the agency. The vote early Friday was the final chance for the Republican governor and many lawmakers to put their imprint on spending.

 

Majority Republicans and Democrats voted for the legislation. But Democrats voted against a related measure that would redirect taxes from online sales to roads and other priorities.

They say it is unfair to schools that were in line to get the windfall from a U.S. Supreme Court decision that enabled the state to require taxation from more online purchases.

 

Republicans says schools already are getting record funding.

 

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UPDATED at 6:00 a.m.:

 

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has voted to empower the Legislature to intervene in lawsuits, a right already granted to the state attorney general.

 

The bill approved Friday in the final hours of a lame-duck session is opposed by Democrats who call it a power grab before Democrat Dana Nessel leads the attorney general’s office. The measure could ensure the Republican-led Legislature’s ability to support laws if Nessel or Democratic-Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer choose to drop appeals in cases the state loses.

 

Republicans dispute criticism that the legislation would undermine the role of the attorney general. They say it would simply ensure that the Legislature has a voice as more public policy issues are addressed in the courts.

 

Democrats question the timing and counter that the legislation is an unconstitutional overreach. The bill is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder.

 

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UPDATED at 1:00 p.m.:

 

The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature is poised to legalize online gambling and spend more on roads and environmental cleanup in the closing hours of its lame-duck session.

 

The $1.2 billion budget legislation is a final chance for GOP Gov. Rick Snyder and many lawmakers to put an imprint on state spending before they leave office. The gambling measures would make Michigan the fifth state where online wagers would be legal.

 

Legislators remain in session overnight into Friday, the last day of the two-year term. Snyder will be succeeded by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in January.

 

Democrats are criticizing a proposal to redirect revenue from the school aid fund to roads and other priorities.

UPDATED at 10:40 p.m.:

 

Bills that have cleared a legislative hurdle would legalize online gambling in Michigan.

 

The Republican-led Senate late Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation, moving it back to the House after changes were made. An 8 percent tax would be collected from wagers, minus winnings paid out — which would be less than a 19 percent tax now paid by Detroit’s three casinos.

The Detroit casinos could seek an internet gambling license. 

 

The state’s 23 tribal casinos could conduct online gambling if they secure authorization from the state through a compact.

 

The bills also would let the Michigan Gaming Control Board permit internet sports wagering.

 

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UPDATED at 10:00 p.m.:

 

Michigan lawmakers are working to prevent mass school shootings by creating a new state office and requiring districts to consult with local law enforcement on security features before building a school or doing a major renovation.

 

A multi-bill school safety package won final legislative approval Thursday. Earlier this year, lawmakers allocated extra funding to boost security at some schools.

Public schools would be required to develop an emergency operations plan by 2020. Districts would work with local law enforcement to conduct reviews of the plan every two years after.

 

A new state Office of School Safety would be required to train school staff on safety measures. 

 

People wanting to become police officer would have to complete active violence response training.

 

Updated at 7:35 p.m.:

 Bills being passed by Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature would implement a newly passed constitutional amendment that expands voting options, but they are facing criticism from Democrats.

The proposal was approved by voters last month.

 

It allows citizens to register by mail closer to Election Day and in person at any time, including on Election Day. The legislation approved 57-51 Thursday night — in the final hours of a lame-duck session — would define that voters could register within 15 days of an election at their city or township clerk’s office.

 

Democrats oppose the bill, saying same-day registration should not be limited to just one place — especially in large cities like Detroit. Republicans say they made changes at the request of clerks.

 

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Updated at 5:35 p.m.:

 

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has voted to dedicate additional tax revenue from online sales for road construction, environmental cleanup and recycling programs.

 

The bill approved almost entirely along party line Thursday is part of a major mid-year budget plan that is expected to move through the Legislature in the final hours of a lame-duck session, and less than two weeks before Gov. Rick Snyder leaves office.

 

Democrats oppose the legislation because they say the online tax revenue is supposed to go to schools.

 

Instead, the money would be used in part to fund Snyder’s proposed Renew Michigan plan. He wanted to fund it with an increase in landfill dumping fees, but his plan went nowhere in the Legislature.

 

UPDATED at 5:00 P.M.:

Gov. Rick Snyder authorizes non-certified substitute teachers. 

People who don’t have a formal teaching certificate will be able to substitute teach in certain classrooms.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation allowing non-certified career professional to substitute teach in grades nine through 12.  The governor says the measure will help schools fill shortages in programs offering high-demand career skills.

Qualifying substitutes will need to achieve specific requirements as determined by local school boards.

Snyder signed the legislation on the last day of Michigan’s lame-duck session.

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UPDATED at 3:10 p.m.

The Republican-led Michigan Senate has voted to empower the Legislature to intervene in lawsuits, a right already granted to the state attorney general.

The bill approved Thursday in the final hours of a lame-duck session is opposed by Democrats who call it a power grab before Democrat Dana Nessel leads the attorney general's office. The measure could ensure the Republican-led Legislature's ability to support laws if Nessel or Democratic-Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer chooses to drop appeals in cases the state loses.

Republicans dispute criticism that the legislation would undermine the role of the attorney general. They say it would simply ensure that the Legislature has a voice as more public policy issues are addressed in the courts.

Democrats question the timing and counter that the legislation is an unconstitutional overreach. The bill is expected to soon win final House passage.

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UPDATED at 2:45 p.m.

Michigan municipalities could restrict the use of fireworks on more days under a bill nearing final legislative approval.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously Thursday.

Current law lets local governments regulate more powerful commercial-grade fireworks most of the year, but has restrictions before, during and after national holidays. That is 30 days a year when municipalities cannot prohibit the fireworks during nighttime hours.

The legislation would cut to 12 the number of days when local rules could not be in effect — largely around New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Other bills would tighten the requirements for selling consumer-grade fireworks and let state or local officials banned the use of fireworks in the event of drought or other weather conditions.

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UPDATED at 12:45 p.m.

A bill nearing legislative approval would let Michigan businesses count out-of-state workers for the purposes of qualifying for state economic development incentives.

The legislation was narrowly passed by the Republican-controlled House on Thursday, 56-53, and returns to the Senate for a final vote.

Supporters say the change would help more businesses expand or locate in Michigan, particularly in counties where people cross the border to work. Opponents say taxpayer support should not go to companies that employ out-of-state workers.

Under the bill, businesses would have to certify that at least 75 percent of its employees are Michigan residents — higher than a 50 percent requirement passed by the Senate last year. The House changed the legislation to apply statewide, not just in border counties.

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UPDATED at 11:45 a.m.

Michigan's Legislature is in session for a likely marathon final day of voting, as majority Republicans race to pass bills before a Democrat becomes governor in January.

Among the major items under consideration, Thursday is legislation that would toughen rules for citizen-initiated ballot drives. It follows voters' passage of Democratic-backed proposals last month and Republicans' unprecedented move to weaken minimum wage and paid sick time laws that began as ballot initiatives.

The lame-duck moves in Michigan could curb the left's power at the ballot box, while sweeping laws in Republican-controlled Wisconsin will weaken incoming Democratic officeholders. Michigan Republicans have dropped an attempt to strip power from the incoming Democratic secretary of state.

One bill already passed, though, would make it harder for Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer to set tougher environmental and other regulations.

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